Friday, 13 August 2010
Something for the weekend Mrs B?
A very nice lady called Kate raised an interesting question about my last post, where I mentioned buying my boys purses. I now realise that in America and possibly Australia "purse" is what women carry their most vital possessions around in - credit card, phone, lipstick, handcuffs, welding kit. She imagined Boys 1 and 2 tripping along with little designer bags over their arms, Boy 1 with a Mulberry Bayswater and Boy 2 with a Hermes Birkin, for example. You see, here in England we call "purses" "handbags". For us, "purses" are what you put your money/small change in. What do you people call them? Change purses? Bill folds? Condominiums? Eggplant?
That terrible old know-all Oscar Wilde went on about two nations divided by a common language. He does have a point.
I know in America "pants" are trousers; here "pants" are knickers, underwear. I am always amused that Americans talk about "pants suits." And I think "suspenders" in Americaland are what men use to hold up their trousers; in England these are called "braces"; suspenders are what people use to hold up their stockings/liven up their marriage/wear when playing Dr Frank N Furter in the local am dram production of "The Rocky Horror Show".
The best example of the US/Anglo language mismatch I ever witnessed was during a conference for lawyers from all over the world. Someone asked an Amercian lawyer what she would be wearing to the dinner that evening. "A sheath" she replied. The entire British contingent collapsed in very undignified squawks of laughter. Much to the bemusement of all delegates from other countries. Eventually when we'd picked ourselves off the floor, blown our noses, tucked our shirts back in and put our glasses back on, we explained that in England "sheath" means, er, a condom. (No, nothing to do with condominiums).
So you see ladies, purse sounds weird. But it could have been worse. Much, much worse.
Images from Wikipedia of Tim Curry and Monica Bellucci